First off, let me start with a photo. I came out of the house to find Jackson laying on the front porch finishing his second, yes second, chapter book of the day. He loves to read, and now that he is firmly into chapter books, he just reads and reads and reads.
Ok, so since my last mid March post, life has spiraled out of control and for the first time in my lift, I feel like I am just hanging on for the ride. This may come as a shock to many, especially my husband and mother, who think that I have a plan for everything, but alas, I let go, stopped planning, ran with what life gave me, and have decided that you all who do that are CRAZY! Life is so much easier with a good calendar, lots of highlighters to keep it all straight, and a contingency for everything, and I mean everything. For example, if I am murdered or die a strange death, I do NOT want Keith Morrison, aka the creepy guy, to do my Dateline story. Plan for everything.
So, some catch up on where we have been and what we have been doing. After my last post, which followed our whirlwind trip to Arizona to visit Tom’s grandmother and she passed away, we regrouped with a quick couple of weeks at home and set sail on our fabulous Eastern Caribbean cruise on the largest cruise ship in the world, the Oasis of the Seas. No joke, this ship is amazing! It had a central park with actual real growing trees, a synchronized diving show, a carousel, you name it, they had it. 4 different deck pools, 22 restaurants, and ice skating rink, zipline, manufactured wave pool for surfing and boogie boarding. Seriously, try and think of something and this 19 story mammoth of a ship had it!
First of, we set sail with my mom and dad and had adjoining rooms with a shared balcony and it was like heaven. The kids had a blast running between the rooms and it was nice to have them near to touch base and the beginning and end of the day for plans.
Our first stop was in Nassua, Bahamas and our little group split up. Jackson and I went on a shore excursion with Mom and Dad out on a catamaran for about an hour and we set up over a reef for some snorkeling. Jackson thought the catamaran was the best adventure. I can still see his wind swept salty hair blowing as he sat at the bow watching the water. He was a little less adventurous when it came to getting in the water. The cove was quite choppy and he was a little alarmed at getting in without touching and letting the waves take him. He has had a snorkel and mask for 2 years now that he plays with in the swimming pool, so he was familiar with that, but the anxiety of crashing water was too much for him. At least he gave it 3 good tries, decided not to give up on snorkeling entirely, and had a blast otherwise.
I love this photo below of Jackson and my dad. I think that at heart, they are best friends. Jackson could sit with him and not say a word but just “watch the world go by” for hours. Lefties together forever!
While Jackson and I were out, Lily and Tom went on a glass bottomed and walled submarine to check out the marine life. Lily still talks about all the colors of fish that she saw on her adventure with Daddy.
Next up, kid swap on our shore excursion in St. Thomas. Jackson and Tom had a great adventure on a kayaking, hiking, beach snorkel outing. Jackson geared up and has decided that he is a kayak lover and snorkeling is much easier when you can get your feet grounded in the water and swim out first.
Lily and I had a fun trip to a sea life sanctuary where we saw all kids of sea life. The stingrays were really neat, but the sea turtles were the most amazing. After that, we headed out the one of the pristine white beaches with clear aqua waters and spent the afternoon building sand castles and playing in the water. Such an amazing time with my little girl that I will always remember. I love watching my kids on the beach, for some reason, sand makes for perfect memories.
Last but not least, St Maarten, where we explored a butterfly farm and garden with Mom and Dad and the kids, and then headed to the French side of the island where it rained. Not the best of explorations, but fun none the less. Plus, Lily picked up a nice little rainbow dress, which she insists on wearing often, and Jackson acquired a proper walking stick which has become his new favorite hiking accessory.
The best part for Lily I think for the whole trip, well, for both kids actually, was getting to dress up every night for dinner. Lily had 7 different nice dresses that I had been collecting through the year when they would go dirt cheap on clearance, and Jackson got to wear his suit and tie. A sampling below…I wish I had gotten pics of them each night, but oh well, I enjoyed the moment instead.
I am not going to lie, the first 4 days, mostly ended with Jackson upset that everyone oohed and aahed over how cute Lily looked in her dresses and how she was a princess….Super side note, on the first night, Lily kept lifting her dress way up high (think “I see London, I see France, I see Lily’s underpants” high). It took us a bit to understand that she was holding her dress like a princess. Let me explain, I princess will hold her dress with either one hand out to the side, to pull it up off of the ground, or with two hands gently raised in front. This is how a proper princess behaves, we have been told, and she is consistent with walking this way with EVERY dress. If I was a better Mom, I would have gotten some cute shots of her climbing stairs, but alas, all I got was this one kinda from the side photo (with the boys checking out the telescope above the bridge of the ship in the background)
Anyway, where was I, oh yes, Jackson was in a tizzy about all the compliments that Lily was getting, like out right pouting, stomping, and crying. He just didn’t understand, and the Tom had one of the greatest paternal “ah-ha” moments of all. He explained that boys clothes are boring, and that no one compliment boys because there clothes are so boring (except for Tom’s purple mod tie, he gets compliments on that ALL THE TIME!). Alas, Jackson spent the last three days telling Lily anytime she was complimented “Lily, they say that because you look like a princess and my clothes are boring” and he was totally ok with it. Below he is looking like a perfect sailing gentleman though.
Jackson had a great time on the ice skating rink. It was one of the things that he most wanted to do, but it wasn’t open very often for open skate because they had an ice show that was done to some Hans Christian Andersson’s fairy tales, very cool, but they wanted to keep the ice nice for the show. On the last sea day, Jackson got his chance. He was hesitant at first.
Then got the hang of it.
And finally, was adored, as usual, by his sister, whose feet were just too small for skates.
We had a great time hanging out on the deck around the pools too. Lily’s favorite was a playground pool with lots to climb on and working water guns that unfortunately could also shoot at the parents in deck chairs.
Jackson thought that the “whirlpool” was the best. It was basically a huge over-sized fish tank with a current and glass walls that the kids loved to play in. When he wasn’t in that, he was almost guaranteed to be in a hot tub.
Lily also has become one of “those girls”. You know the ones, that huddle under 15 towels because the beach is too cold for them. She likes to wrap up, put a towel over her head and just chill. Look for her outline under the towel, she would sit like that for an hour!
By the end of the trip, well, by about day 2 actually, the kids were thoroughly exhausted. Here are some pics of them passed out in the cabin of the ship. Yes, that is Lily hanging off of the bed completely asleep in the second picture. I have no idea how long she was like that before we woke up, but she stayed that way for at least another 30 minutes after I took the photo.
We got back late the night before Easter, and the next afternoon we had an egg hunt with the neighbors. Lily felt it needed to be a formal affair. Jackson was cool with whatever. At any rate they had a lot of fun, and were relieved that the Easter bunny didn’t skip us just because we got back so late.
Once recovered from our fabulous trip, life got serious with soccer. As we near the end of the season, I am grateful to have to healthy active kids who love to play, and ability to be active in there journey. But man am I looking forward to having my Tuesday and Thursday afternoons and evenings back and my Saturday mornings once again unstructured.
The kids have made great strides though. Lily is very protective of her ball and is an assertive player, just like her brother, and has a lot of fun. She can even name for you all 14 kids on her team if you ask, and tell you which ones are her friends, and which ones are just kids. Yes, the hierarchy of who we know and how they fall into our lives has begun. I hope I can survive the next 15 years with her.
Jackson has really become a great defensive player and is already starting to talk about when he can be on the travel teams. I don’t know if my life is ready for that, but hopefully by then, Tom will be done and we will be more able to help schlep around.
I love this picture below that we got today of the kids playing after Lily’s soccer game, before Jackson’s started. We actually should have left already and got entranced in the conversation we were having with friends and looked up to catch this. One of the moments that makes your heart sing as a parent.
Some of our other goings on have been mostly centered around the house, school, and fun. One afternoon, I decided to build a fire pit. Kinda impromptu, although I had been mulling the idea around for quite sometime. Tom was gone for the weekend, and I asked the teenage boy who lives next door if he wanted to help. This is our result. It holds a mean fire!
We also got furniture for our screened porch. I feel like a real southerner now that I have an outdoor living space. It isn’t finished. We need to rescreen the sun shade, the outdoor rug hasn’t come yet, and I am going to make more throw cushions out of the bolt of fabric sitting on the couch, but so far it is a comfortable start that we have taken great advantage of.
Jackson has been quite busy at school. He had a field trip to the planetarium and got to partake in one of the science experiments. They also had an Earth Day play that was super cute.
Lily is definitely getting into arts and crafts and for the most part, has stopped coloring on herself.
Note the rainbow colored handle on the umbrella.
Lily has been having fun playing with her best friend Braden from next door. I was able to capture this quick photo of them having a snack in the box fort they played with. She of course is wearing one of her cruise dresses, because why not.
So that, wraps it up for now, and I think gives you all an idea of where we have been, and what we have been up to. Life is settling back into a routine now that I have ditched the “roll with it mentality” and am back to scheduling life for sanity’s sake.